Army lets Major quit to wed Lankan girlfriend

After a prolonged legal battle, the Indian Army has decided to relieve a 35-year-old Major in the Corps of Signals to enable him to marry a Sri Lankan national. However, the officer will have to refund the entire cost of his training at the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Indian Military Academy (IMA), and also furnish his marriage certificate.

The decision to accept Major Vikas Kumar's resignation was taken on November 22, a day after the Karnataka high court criticised the Army for repeatedly contesting the case despite two different benches of the court ruling in favor of granting discharge to the officer.

The amount of money that Kumar, who was commissioned into the Army on January 24, 2000, will have to refund is yet to be determined.

The issue dates back to June 9, 2011, when Kumar sought permission to marry Arnila Ranamali Gunaratne, 29, a Sri Lankan doctoral student in Bangalore. Twenty days later, Kumar sought to resign in order to marry Gunaratne.

But on September 19, 2011, the Director General of Military Intelligence refused permission for the marriage on the ground that Gunaratne had refused to give up her Sri Lankan nationality.

As per Army Order 14/ 2004-MI, any Army personnel wanting to marry a foreigner (except Bhutanese nationals) must obtain government sanction and the spouse must become an Indian citizen. The order, however, allows the personnel to resign if their foreign spouse refuses to given up their original citizenship.

Following the rejection of his request, Kumar filed a petition in the Karnataka high court. On December 7, 2011, a single judge bench of the Karnataka high court set aside the Army's rejection, and directed it to process Kumar's resignation within 60 days.

But on February 24, 2012, the Army rejected Kumar's resignation, citing the following grounds: he was yet to fulfill the terms of his commission; the Corps of Signals has a 32 per cent deficiency in officers of the rank of Lt Col and below; and Kumar was under investigation for not reporting his affair with a foreign national.

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